My partner has recently been having trouble with sleeping, which is one of the signs of anxiety. Thus, I thought I’d create an article about the symptoms and signs of anxiety so people would realise if they’re suffering from anxiety so they could get support sooner.
What Is Anxiety?
It’s normal to experience some feelings of anxiety, fear, and worry, as they’re normal responses to some situations. It’s normal to worry about an exam, exam results, or even when waiting for medical results (I know the latter has been something I’ve worried about numerous times). These kinds of feelings evolved to help us assess risk and how to protect ourselves in a dangerous situation.
Feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear are what drives our fight or flight response, so they’re not bad emotions because there are no bad emotions, they all have there uses. When your fight or flight kicks in, you’re brain then reacts by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This helps prepare you so you can either get away or fight to save yourself. Your body will return to normal once the stimulus that caused the fight or flight response to kick in has gone or been reallocated as not being a threat.
However, the problem is that we’re able to trigger the same response when no real danger exists. This is what it is to have an anxiety disorder. Having this fight or flight response activating over threats that aren’t real can seriously affect your quality of life. It will also lead to you thinking things are worse than they actually are.
Anxiety disorders can take many forms, from trichotillomania, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, phobias, and more. I’ve personally been diagnosed with social anxiety, agoraphobia, but I also have problems with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), although I have no formal diagnosis of the latter, yet.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
There are a number of symptoms of anxiety that can be a good indicator of an anxiety disorder, and these symptoms can be split into both mental and physical symptoms.
- Racing thoughts.
- Over-thinking you can’t control.
- Difficulties concentrating
- Feelings of dread, panic, or a sense of impending doom.
- Heightened alertness.
- Feeling on edge.
- Sleep disturbance.
- Changes to your appetite.
- Wanting to escape from certain situations you find yourself in.
- Dissociation – feeling like you’re not connected to your body.
- Worrying about feeling anxious and that people will notice you’re anxious.
- Fast and heavy breathing.
- Blushing and/or hot flushes.
- Dry mouth.
- Fast or erratic heartbeat.
- Hair loss.
- Lack of energy or heavy fatigue.
- Stomach aches and feeling sick.
Signs Anxiety Might Be Unknowingly Affecting Your Life
Have you noticed that you’re more easily agitated or irritated lately? Are you snapping at people around you over things that would normally not cause you to do so? If you’ve answered yes to either of those, then it’s likely you’re feeling more stressed and anxious than usual.
It can be common for people who are developing issues around anxiety to notice that they wake up in the morning feeling anxious. As stated, this was one of the signs of anxiety my partner has experienced recently. This can be a sign that you’re experiencing a lot of stress in your life, which could be work-related or because of something in your personal life. The best way to tackle this kind of anxiety would be to work on managing your stress and resolving the causes of it. Although there might be instances where there’s not a lot you can do, in which case learning to accept the things you can’t change can also help.
Because stress and anxiety can cause sleep problems, you’ll also start to feel more fatigued. Furthermore, having episodes of anxiety and being more alert to dangers, in general, will slap your energy as well.
I think a lot of us have found ourselves being left in an ambiguous state where not knowing something causes you to worry. A classic example of this is a cliché in TV shows and films, the “we need to talk” situation. Because you don’t know what they want to talk about, and with us all being primed for that being a bad thing, we’ll often be stuck thinking about what these worse things could be. One way around that could be to just ask for clarification about what they’d like to talk about. Even if it’s bad, knowing will still help with your levels of anxiety.
Anxiety can affect the way you eat in several ways. For some, they’ll eat more or eat unhealthy food options. Alternatively, others might cut back on eating as a way of asserting control due to feeling like they’ve lost control in other areas of their life.
Some people might find it difficult to relax during their time off, which is another indicator that you might be suffering from anxiety issues. Often anxiety can be comorbid with depression as well.
Examining past situations that might have gone bad to problem-solve or to learn from what happened, can be beneficial. However, becoming preoccupied with thinking and examining bad situations isn’t, which is often referred to as rumination. Getting lost in thoughts like this is rarely useful because there’s nothing that can be done to change what happened, thus wasting time and effort on this is just you torturing yourself. Ruminating like this is a common habit of someone being affected by anxiety, and will affect your quality of life.
I experienced this issue myself, overanalysing events that happened to me from decades ago. It was so bad that I was unable to sleep because my mind would be consumed with these thoughts. Thus, if you’re experiencing this preoccupation when you’re trying to sleep, then it’s likely you have anxiety and unresolved issues that need addressing. For me, it was processing the past trauma that I needed to resolve to stop me from being an insomniac.
If you’re finding that you’re in need of more reassurance and external validation than usual, then this could be a sign that you’re suffering from anxiety. In an ideal world, we’d all focus on internal validation to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. With conditions like anxiety, but also with conditions like borderline personality disorder as well, external validation is more important. For the most part, it’ll just mean that you’ll rarely feel happy with your efforts. However, it can also lead to situations where you can be taken advantage through codependency, abuse, and being a people-pleaser.
If you’re finding that you’re more concerned about what people think of you, this could also be a sign that you’re becoming anxious. For example, thinking your co-workers think you’re not good enough at your job. However, it could also manifest itself in how you present yourself, changing how you look, how you talk, and being preoccupied in your appearance and having to check how you look more frequently.
Another sign you might be feeling anxious is if you start to develop fears about things you hadn’t had a fear of before. I once developed a temporary anxiety about walking near rivers and canals, that caused me to have anxiety attacks and tunnel vision whenever I was near a body of water.
If you’re making up excuses to avoid social situations, especially situations you’d normally engage in with no issues, then that too is a sign of anxiety. So, have you noticed any reluctance to interact with others in social situations?
Are you experiencing any muscles aches recently aches you don’t normally have? Another sign of anxiety is that you may start tensing muscles when you’re in anxiety-inducing situations, so if you’re experiencing unusual muscle aches, then this could be an indicator of an anxiety issue.
If you ‘re struggling to focus on tasks, relaxation, or even watching TV, then you may be being affected by anxiety. It’s hard to concentrate on things when you’re preoccupied with worry and anxiety. Thus, if you’re finding it hard to stay engaged in tasks at work/home or aren’t paying attention to conversations you’re in, then you might want to talk to someone so you can find this source of anxiety so you can tackle it.
The longer you ignore the signs of anxiety, the more you leave your anxiety to grow. The more your anxiety grows, the more it’ll affect your day-to-day activities, reducing your quality of life. It will have a knock-on effect on how you look after yourself, work, find and maintaining a relationship, trying new things, and just generally being happy.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with anxiety and the early warnings signs of anxiety noticed in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.